...barked The Sun yesterday under a picture of Karen Matthews. The Mirror went with 'I KNEW' under a picture of Karen Matthews, and the Hate went for one of those rambling loads of old nonsense they enjoy so much, something like "So, Mr Brown, when are you going to stop making us suck asylum seekers' cocks and admit that Karen Matthews knew everything all along?"
I think that's pretty close to it, anyway; I tend not to look too closely at the Hate when I'm in a paper shop as I have an irresistible urge to defecate on the front cover, smear the shit around in a dirty protest and then set fire to the entire shop, running out and screaming with laughter while shaking maracas and doing a one-man conga. I mean it's understandable, but where am I going to get my choc dips from in future if I keep doing that?
I've mentioned before that Karen Matthews has been targeted by the newspapers ever since Shannon went missing - but this wasn't because of any journalistic sixth sense that she was a wrongun, which is what one or two rather glib columnists are going to be thinking over the next few days - and besides, as I always like to point out, and newspapers tend to forget in this crazy 24-7 world where it's important to state that people have done something they're accused of while they're still on trial, Karen Matthews hasn't been convicted of any offence, and is therefore innocent until proven otherwise.
No, the columnists pounced on her because she was of another Britain, the Britain that people don't like to think really exists - a world with no job prospects, where living on benefits can be an occupation, where there simply aren't the jobs within any reasonable distance of estates - and have you been on a bus lately? Five quid a day to travel where I live; if you're on minimum wage that's pretty much an hour's work after tax just for the privilege of turning up and then going home again. Much easier to blame migrant workers, of course, as we see time and time again, rather than wonder whether the policies enthusiastically pursued ever since 1979, without any consideration of there ever being full employment and deliberately creating unemployment in some cases if it benefits the rich to do so, might have anything to do with life on an estate in 2008.
The simple fact is, for all the bluster of journalists, for all the bright-eyed and bushy-tailed hacks that were bussed off to Yorkshire to try and work out what was going on, they all failed miserably. Utterly, utterly failed. We even got stories about 'police fearing the worst' over Shannon's ordeal. We got a story about Karen Matthews being told by a psychic that 'she was taken by someone you know' - very interesting in the light of recent developments, but we must wait to pass judgment until we're in possession of the full facts. I know I know, it's a bit of a crazy leftfield attitude of mine, but there you are.
While the pig-ignorant twits passed judgment on the Matthews family from their computers in Canary Wharf, they were missing out on the actual story. Why? Because journalism isn't about actually finding the news any more. Sure, send down some reporters to dig the dirt, but let's not actually get the exclusive - what's the point of that in the internet age, when 24-hour rolling news and the internet will break a story, and when your competitors will be able to print late second editions to ruin it anyway? Someone had the Matthews 'exclusive' yesterday, but you wouldn't have known it from looking at the news stands.
So there's a limited value in actually finding news. Much better to tell reporters on the scene to just get some 'friends' to kick the protagonists up the arse when it matters for a few quid; much easier to snipe at people's lifestyle from a few hundred miles away, in a lovely air-conditioned glass skyscraper with an expensive sandwich shop downstairs, from which you can definitely understand what's going on in the British underclass created by Thatcher and Blair. So much simpler to blame the scroungers and liberals; it must have been their fault.